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Dead Person?
(illustrade, Pixabay)

Ethereal Person
(charmaineswart, Morguefile)

Angel of Death
(click, Morguefile)

Dead person? When is Death?

Here death means the death of the physical body.

Popularly, death is when someone's heart stops beating and they stop breathing. But these signs are unreliable. Medicine prefers to also include brain death (see below).

Legally, death is usually when a doctor declares a person medically dead (see below).
However, when the person has been missing for years, a court may adjudge death.
Death may also be pronounced if, when last seen, the person was near death (e.g. on a sinking ship). This legal recognition can be quick.

Medically, death can be viewed as loss of vital functions (breathing, heartbeat, brain activity). But brain activity in the cerebrum may cease (an EEG will flatline), yet the brainstem can still be active. Thus, whole brain death is preferred to higher brain death, as a definition of death. Yet there are exceptions or unusual cases:-
So, how else might we define when is death?

Ethereal person

The view of Esoteric Science

Esoteric knowledge indicates that there is a subtle thread or silver cord that connects the physical/etheric body with its soul (which can reincarnate) and its spirit (which is immortal). Only when this cord detaches does death occur. For example:

"When a great guru leaves the body at death, he just allows the silver cord to dissolve altogether. It is almost as if he can give birth to himself on another plane.
The minute you break the silver cord, the body dies.
In the case of violent or sudden death the cord can be ripped off, and etherically you have a lot of mending to do.
In an older person, the feelers of a silver cord are less strong (cords have appendages, as does the silver cord). When they start to weaken, they often change colour. They can go through many shades into deep brown. Once they go into that brown colour, people usually die slowly and peacefully; the cord comes off very gently, they hardly feel it at all."

(Adapted from All about Cords by Lilla Bek, track #3, 1m18s; excerpt)

O.M. Aїvanhov (Christmas and Easter in the initiatic tradition, pp.134-135) also considers loss of heart heat to be essential:

"All who seem to have resuscitated were never really dead, even though their heart stopped beating temporarily: to be truly dead, the heart must lose its heat. As long as you are warm, you can be brought back to life with massage or other methods, or by means of Divine Magic. But once the heat has left and the silver cord that connects the physical body to the etheric [subtle physical] and astral [desire or feeling] bodies is cut, nothing can be done for that person." 
(O.M. Aїvanhov, Christmas and Easter in the initiatic tradition, pp.134-135)

So, esoterically:

Death = heart without heat + cut silver cord

Other Interesting Views

"No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence." (Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man)

Angel of Death

Also see:-

Death & Immortality

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Page last updated: 15 May 2020.